Conservative activists gather in Florida: Several times a year at select events and conferences, the Religious Freedom Coalition prepares booths, or exhibits, to promote our various programs in areas set aside for exhibits at conferences. On occasion we only present an exhibit, but more often the Religious Freedom Coalition is an actual sponsor of the events, where we are able to reach and inform many Christians about religious freedom issues.
Each year the Liberty Counsel holds a conference called The Awakening in Orlando, Florida which is the location of the group’s headquarters. Liberty Counsel was founded by my good friend Mat Staver, an attorney who has presented cases before the Supreme Court. Liberty Counsel has trained lawyers in all fifty states to defend the rights of Christians. As just a few examples, Liberty Counsel successfully defended students who were suspended for peacefully praying before school. The organization also successfully defended scores of Good News Club cases in many states, resulting in thousands of children being able to hear the gospel in after-school clubs in public schools.
Because of the good work of the Liberty Counsel in defending religious freedom, it is natural for the Religious Freedom Coalition to be a part of The Awakening conference each year. This year we were sponsors of the event, and I was also a speaker, as I have been many times in the past.
About 2,000 conservative Bible believing Christians attended The Awakening and were informed about our Post cards to Congress program to stop funding of Sunni Muslim fighters and about our Christmas for Refugees program.
But just as important, speakers representing major organizations all over the nation, including Rev. Franklin Graham, were exposed to the programs as well. I had the opportunity in the speakers’ lounge to talk with Rev. Graham for some time about our various programs, just as I did with Senator Rick Santorum and Governor Mike Huckabee who were also speakers at The Awakening.
Other leaders I spoke to about our mission programs and our post card program to stop tax dollars from going to Islamic fighters included Rev. James Robinson, Ken Blackwell, the Benham Brothers and several others. The Religious Freedom Coalition’s sponsorship of The Awakening dramatically reached many who would not otherwise be aware of our programs.
What does the Rule of Law even mean?”
Activism in the Age of Lawlessness: On March 14th I served on a panel of experts at The Awakening, an annual event in Orlando, Florida organized by Mat Staver who is founder of the Liberty Counsel as I mentioned above. The panel was led by Harry Mihet, a Liberty Counsel attorney who has filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of Christians whose rights have been trampled upon by our secular society. The goal of the panel was to discuss the current state of the Rule of Law, or lack thereof and the responsibility of Christians to activism.
I cannot recount the entire panel discussion but I do want to share the main points which I made concerning the Rule of Law, because it became apparent to me during the discussions and questions that many of those attending believed the Rule of Law simply meant obeying the laws set forth by government. Far from that understanding, the Rule of Law is actually a restraint on government that protects the rights of the people.
Under dictatorships and totalitarian democracies such as now exist in Europe, laws are arbitrary in nature, and are simply defined at the whim of an elected body or bureaucracy. There is no certainty that the legal actions of citizens on any given day will be legal the following day. In a nation with true Rule of Law there is more certainty as defined in The Road to Serfdom by Fredric Hayek:
“Nothing distinguishes more clearly conditions in a free country from those in a country under arbitrary government than the observance in the former of the great principle known as the Rule of Law. Stripped of all technicalities, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand — rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one’s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge ..”
It is not just liberals or “progressives” who have damaged the Rule of Law in the United States and caused laws and rulemaking to be arbitrary in nature. While we conservatives prefer to look at only Obama’s actions as violations of the Rule of Law, we fail to look at the actions of conservative legislative bodies including Congress controlled by Republicans. As an example, assets of individuals can now be seized and sold by police, although no charges are brought or crime ever proven. Also, “no knock” searches of homes in the middle of the night by police are common. And many people are now convicted of crimes in our courts without habeas corpus.
Sadly these violations of liberty approved by “conservative” legislatures and courts can now be used against those who do not agree with the emerging politically correct society. We see this when government forces a Christian photographer to work at a homosexual wedding or when our children are told they may not read their Bibles on a public school bus. It is also evident when federal agencies pass rules that impose on our everyday lives, and they can fine or jail us for not following those rules, without so much as a hearing. Tomorrow, will we wake up and find out it is against the law to use our lawnmowers?
No “Equal Branches” of Government: Our liberties have been eroded in particular by the Federal Courts over the last fifty to sixty years, as is evident by these courts voiding the laws of state legislatures and Congress and in some cases the state Constitutions voted into law by the people. Roe v. Wade which legalized the murder of the unborn is one such example, since before that decision abortion was illegal in almost all states.
Currently the prominent issue is the attack on traditional marriage, as Federal Courts have voided laws and State Constitutional Amendments passed by the voters of the States. Unelected judges have simply overturned the results of voting by the citizens.
How did this come about? Perhaps it was the misconception that there are three “equal” branches of government. This is false. Under the Constitution there are NOT three equal branches of government. In reality all power resides in the people’s house, the Congress. Just some examples: The President cannot fire the Congress, but the Congress can fire the President. Cabinet members cannot be hired by the President without the approval of Congress.
The Congress holds the power to create (and, implicitly, to define the jurisdiction of) federal courts inferior to the Supreme Court (i.e. Courts of Appeals, District Courts, and various others under Article I and Article III). Indeed the Congress can impeach any federal judge. The problem today is a Congress under both Democrat and Republican leadership that has created an imperial presidency that is out of control while failing to fulfil its role to rein in abusive courts.
We must continue the fight for our liberty, as Christians all over the world are doing in the face of insurmountable odds. Yes we are losing battles, but many of those before us who fought for liberty did not live to see victory in the battles they fought. For example, more than 500 years passed from the signing of the Magna Carta to the guarantees of liberty in the Constitution of the United States
Resistance for the cause of true human liberty – not the politically correct version but real liberty — is never in vain, even if the result is not instant. John Adams and William Wilberforce spent their entire lives working for the liberty of enslaved mankind. Obtaining and maintaining true freedom, true liberty is a generational battle. If Americans find it too hard to fight for their rights, they will be exchanging their freedoms for some foolish sense of security.
If citizens who understand the true nature of freedom under the Rule of Law are not willing to face arrest in demanding that their ever-shrinking sphere of freedom be protected and expanded, then that sphere will vanish. Surely freedom-loving peoples in the West, particularly Christians, should be willing to take some risks at a time when Christians in Indonesia, Pakistan, Syria, and North Korea are dying for refusing to renounce their faith.
Not the time to surrender: During the panel discussion I covered all of the above points and made clear that this is not the time for fear or apathy or silence. Now is the time to stand up to the “progressives” who want to control our lives at all levels of government and spheres of influence and say, enough is enough. We can never win if we are silent. If we remain silent, the day will come that we will be forced to be silent about our beliefs.
Supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition present: For several weeks prior to The Awakening conference in Orlando, supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition in Florida were contacted by both mail and email to make them aware of the event. As a result there were many supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition in attendance. Several of those talked to me at the close of the panel discussion. Others came by our exhibit and spoke with Bob Armstrong, who was part of our last Christmas mission to Lebanon and Jordan. Overall, the Religious Freedom Coalition’s presence at The Awakening was a great success.
The post card program and our legislative work
The legislative office of the Religious Freedom Coalition is located on Pennsylvania Ave. just six blocks from the Capitol Building and ten blocks from the White House. The White House of course has the very famous address of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. During the term of President George W. Bush, staff members of the Religious Freedom Coalition were invited to many events in the White House and I personally met President Bush there several times. I have not been invited to the White House for the last six years and my name has been taken off the Christmas card list. I wonder why?
Our legislative office is on the ninth floor of the building which is one of the most secure on Capitol Hill. Our operations center is in a different location.
I spend very little of my time inside our office on Pennsylvania Ave. Normally when I am on Capitol Hill I work out of the Capitol Hill Club located just about 200 feet from the entrance to the Cannon House Office Building on First Street. The Capitol Hill Club is private and membership is by invitation only. Republican congressmen and Senators automatically are members. Democrats have their own similar facility on the Senate side of the Capitol.
It is literally against the law to talk about political campaigns or fund raising on the Capitol grounds. Congressmen, Senators and their staff cannot use phones or any Capitol Hill facilities for campaigning or fund raising, not even a photo of themselves in their offices. As a result congressmen and Senators must come to the Capitol Hill Club or other private facility to talk about their campaigns for office or to raise funds.
Ambush: On occasion I stand outside the door of a meeting room a congressman has reserved for a political event to ask him why he has voted in a certain way, such as to fund Sunni Islamic fighters. Often this is a congressman whose staff has refused to make an appointment for me to see him. I ask this question: “Has your staff given you a count on the number of post cards and letters sent to you demanding that you not vote to fund Islamic fighters?” I get some interesting answers including, “Did I vote for that?”
Congressmen and Senators are so overwhelmed by meetings with constituents and by hearings of committees they are members of, that many times they simply don’t have time to read the dozens of bills they are expected to vote on in a given day. Congressmen and Senators rely on their staff to give them synopses of bills and recommendations on how to vote. Most of the time they have no idea what is in the bill beyond its title. Last year the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act actually funded the military and included $500,000,000 for Sunni Islamic fighters.
In short, trying to educate 435 congressmen and 100 Senators on this subject is a big job, and I need your help. If you sent the post cards to your congressman and Senators asking them not to fund Islamic fighters, please call their local office in your state and tell the secretary there that you still don’t want your tax dollars to go to Islamic rebels of any kind, anywhere. Together we can make a difference, we can stop this outrage.
William J. Murray, Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #900, Washington, DC 20004 * (202) 742-8990